Bullying vs Violence

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Bullying vs Violence – there can be a fine line in the difference of bullying and violence. This article offers commonalities of violence and bullying, and compares differences in bullying vs violence. Get tips for reducing bullying and violence.

Though bullying is often considered a form of physical or psychological violence, bullying has some different root causes than other types of violence, and also may require different prevention strategies. Let’s compare bullying vs violence for a better understanding.

Violence may be defined as doing harm to another, whether physical or mental. Under this definition, bullying would be considered a form of violence. Comparatively, bullying is different from other types of violence, however, because it usually occurs when one person or group of people singles out another person with the intent of being mean through:

  • Name-calling
  • Teasing
  • Pushing
  • Hitting
  • Threatening
  • Spreading rumors
  • Playing mean practical jokes
  • Social exclusion

Bullying behavior is usually repeated over a period of time until it becomes a pattern. Victims often feel helpless and unable to fight back or defend themselves.

Bullying may take place in person or through electronic media devices, and may be direct or indirect, in comparison violence is always physical. While boys are more likely to engage in violence and in physical bullying, girls are more likely to bully through indirect methods like spreading rumors and purposefully excluding others. Bullying is usually worst during the middle school years, though it can occur from elementary school through high school and beyond into college and the workplace.

Bullying versus Violence:

  • While violence and violent crimes have generally been decreasing in America, bullying has not.
  • Violence is against the law, while bullying generally isn’t unless it crosses the line into harassment or assault.
  • Though violence is generally seen as an unacceptable type of behavior, more people accept bullying as a normal part of life.

Among teens, where violence and bullying are most common, violence is often linked to gangs, drugs, an impoverished neighborhood with fewer perceived opportunities, poor attachment to school, and poor academic accomplishment. Boys are much more likely to be involved in violence than girls. Bullying, on the other hand, is based on individuals, who may be boys or girls, but are often those who feel a need to be powerful and in control. Bullying victims may be students who do not know how to stand up to bullies.

School violence is often addressed by trying to reduce gang involvement, drug use, poor academic achievement, and anger management problems among students. Bullying requires different strategies. Other students may think bullying is normal or not know how to stand up to bullies, so education is an important prevention strategy for bullying, as is taking bullying seriously and instituting a zero-tolerance policy.

Despite their differences, there are strong links between bullying and violence. Both bullies and their victims are more likely to engage in other violent behavior. Victims generally suffer from depression and low self-esteem and may lash out violently, while bullies are more likely than others to engage in violent criminal behavior. Both violence and bullying can cause students to be afraid and to skip school.

Some common factors of that may contribute to bullying and violence are:

  • Severe physical punishments used at home
  • Lack of parental involvement
  • Lack of knowledge about positive ways to deal with problems

Addressing these problems with positive parenting and by teaching problem solving skills and anger management could help reduce violence and bullying among some teens.


Earnestine Bennett-Johnson, “The Root of School Violence: Causes and Recommendations for a Plan of Action,” abstract from Education Resources Information Center [online]

Educational Resources Information Center, “Bullying in Schools. ERIC Digest.” [online]
Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, “Bullying, Thefts Persist Despite Drop in Violence” [online]
Virginia Youth Violence Project, “Research on Bullying” [online]
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH News Release, “Bullies, Victims at Risk for Violence and Other Problem Behaviors” [online]